I love making jokes, either at my own expense or at others (not to laugh necessarily at another but amongst friends that can laugh at themselves). Sometimes it’s a very thin line between sarcasm and cynicism. I’ve crossed that line on several occasions…well actually a lot…but I’ve realized that laughing and having a good time is one thing being sarcastic and cynical is another.
On few occasions, television can be genius and brilliant. One of those moments was last fall when another late night battle ensued. In the same fashion as the Letterman and Leno debacle of the 90’s, this one between Leno and O’Brien was even better. The jokes that were coming from Conan O’Brien’s team were gut-busting hilarious. I found myself laughing so hard that I was crying. But out of all the things that Conan could have said on his final show, he said the following:
“Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it's my least favorite quality. It's doesn't lead anywhere. No one in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen.” – Conan O’Brien
Conan having been promised his dream job, having run it well and to his ability, only to loose it could have said whatever he wanted. He could have slammed NBC, could have said terrible things about Leno, could have done a distasteful and uncensored show…but he didn’t. He went out like a gentleman.
It’s great advice too, when bad things happen…and you find yourself being cynical or sarcastic. Remember that there is no profit, benefit, or relief from it. In fact instead of being what might seem like a release…there is a hardening of the heart. Cynicism and sarcasm tend to do that…they cause feuds, long lasting hard feelings, unforgiveness, and acompassionate responses.
We think joking in a sarcastic or cynical way is a great way to release the angst, but instead we take a shovel and dig ourselves into a deeper emotional hole. There is help though. My sister who teaches 3rd grade gave me the best advice this summer. She gave me the same advice that she gives her students, “Blow our your birthday candles.” When she told me that I didn’t get it at first…but then I got it. I needed to stop and take a deep breath; all is well; it’s not a big deal; get over it. My frustration turned to laughter…it was a great trick.
Laughter is a good way to release tension and can be done healthfully. It’s just such a thin line, that maybe it’s best to keep those negative jokes to ourselves. I’m going to check myself when I want to make a sarcastic and cynical comment because I don’t want to become that senile old man…I want to be fun, happy, and a joy to be around…not Debbie Downer.